What Happens to Suede Shoes When They Get Wet?

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Whether you've accidentally walked through a puddle, couldn't seem to avoid the salty, slushy wetness of a winter sidewalk or someone carelessly spilled a drink right onto your feet -- it wasn't you, of course -- taking one look at your wet suede shoes can result in instant panic. Fortunately, with a few tried-and-true tools and methods for cleaning up suede shoes, they'll look as good as new.

Texture Change

Before you lose your cool, realize that getting your suede shoes wet will not result in any serious damage, even if there's salt involved. The texture of suede is typically soft and somewhat like velvet in its new, clean form. When wet, the texture simply becomes a bit stiff once the moisture dries, but your shoes are not ruined, explains "The Wall Street Journal." Salt water may also result in a whitish, stiff appearance once dry.

Soaking Up Moisture

The moment you notice a wet spot on your suede shoes, gently absorb the moisture by placing a paper towel against the wet spot. If your shoes are unlined, consider placing paper towels inside and outside the shoe and carefully squeezing to remove as much moisture as possible, suggests "Lucky Magazine." Never scrub or rub with a paper towel or other material, particularly if the wetness is caused by something other than water, because this can result in staining. However, if your shoes are soaking wet -- perhaps from walking in the rain -- simply leave them alone until they are completely dry, which may take up to 24 hours.

Dealing with Stains

You'll need to clean dry shoes that have experienced wetness, whether from water or other liquids. If the suede simply incurred some clean water marks, gently sweep over the borders of the spots with a damp kitchen sponge or suede eraser, suggests "Real Simple Magazine." For wet marks including color or salt, first clean suede with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Apply the vinegar solution to the marks with a paper towel or toothbrush, carefully scrubbing. Allow the suede to dry completely, stuffing shoes with paper or shoe trees to avoid crumpling.

Improving Texture

The essential part of restoring the appearance of your previously wet suede shoes is brushing them. Pick up a suede brush made specifically for brushing and cleaning suede and gently brush over the entire surface of your shoes. Use circular motions to lift the suede -- referred to as the nap -- for fabric that looks velvety and feels soft again rather than spotted and stiff. To avoid water stains or wet shoes in the future, consider spraying them with a water and stain protector. However, if you are pregnant or nursing, ask a friend to spray your shoes for you.